Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Mary Peterson, PhD

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PhD

Third Advisor

William Buhrow, PsyD


Military families experience stressors unique to their occupation which strongly influence family structure. Deployment is one of the most impactful and unique experiences that a majority of current military families have experienced as it influences familial stability and structures. Previous research has found that when compared to civilian American families, military families tend to identify as more rigid than flexible while still maintaining good familial satisfaction reports. By examining the correlation between various family structure domains of military families (cohesion, flexibility, rigidity, deployment history, and familial satisfaction) mental health workers may better assist these families in establishing strategies to endure immediate and ensuing stressors of deployment. A participant pool (n = 104) of military members, veterans, partners, and their children completed a demographic questionnaire including deployment history and the FACES IV self-assessment tool authored by David Olson (2011). The FACES IV identifies domains of cohesion and flexibility and their relationships with disengagement, enmeshment, rigidity, and chaos. It was hypothesized that levels of heightened rigidity may serve as a protective factor to the familial stressors of military deployment. Overall, the sample showed significantly heightened rigidity and enmeshment, but maintained balanced levels of cohesion and flexibility. No relationship was found between deployment history and any of the family structure domains, though levels of enmeshment tended to decrease with more deployments. Consistent with current research, this study found family cohesion was the strongest predictor of both balanced and unbalanced family functioning scales within this population.